Boating Laws and Responsibilities

This official Iowa boater safety handbook introduces you to laws governing boating and provides general information about safe operation on Iowa waters. 

Also available as a web-version and an eBook

Wear It Iowa

Wear It Iowa Logo The “Wear It Iowa” program is part of a national campaign designed to educate boaters on the importance of wearing a lifejacket while recreating on or near the water. At least 84% of fatalities nationwide involved individuals who were not wearing a life jacket.

The Boating Education program is committed to providing Iowans with important resources and messages that save lives.

Special Event Permits

A permit is required for regattas, motorboat or other boat races, marine parades, tournaments, or exhibitions etc. to be held on Iowa state waters. Permits must be received by the event organizer at least 30 days in advance of the event. If the event is being held on federally controlled waters, a permit from the U.S. Coast Guard is required.

Vessel Occurrence (Accidents)

The operator of a vessel involved in an occurrence is required to file a report in writing whenever an occurrence results in loss of life; loss of consciousness, medical treatment or disability in excess of 24 hours or property damage in excess of $2000. The report must be submitted within 48 hours in death, disappearance, or personal injuries requiring medical treatment by a licensed health care provider, and within five days in all other cases. All reports shall be submitted to the local Conservation Officer, and shall include a full description of the collision, occurrence or other casualty. If you have any questions, call the DNR Des Moines Office - (515)725-8200.

*Note: If you are required to fill out a Vessel Occurrence Operator's report form, you must also contact your local Conservation Officer or local Sheriff's Department immediately, to report the vessel occurrence.

Vessel Occurrence Operator's Report Form

Iowa DNR Law Enforcement Bureau, State Map with Contact Information

2016 Recreational Boating Incidents
Personal Injuries              13
Property Damage 8
Fatalities 5

Last Updated: 07/29/2016

Going Boating in Nebraska?
Beginning in 2016, all resident and non-resident boaters will be required to pay a fee to fund programs aimed at combating aquatic invasive species.

Going Boating in Missouri?

Any person born after January 1, 1984 is required to carry proof of boater education while boating in Missouri. For a fee of $5.00, a duplicate education certification can be obtained by calling Iowa DNR at 515-725-8200.

Hull Identification Numbers

Have questions reguarding Hull Identification numbers?

We have you covered:
Hull Identification Number FAQ